Does the Age of a Presidential Candidate Matter to Young Voters?
As more contenders enter the next presidential race, CIRCLE continues looking ahead to 2016 and exploring the role that youth will play in that election. With candidates ranging in age from 43 (Marco Rubio) to 73 (Bernie Sanders) already among the declared aspirants, we explored an oft-asked question: do young people prefer to vote for younger candidates?
The answer is, largely, no. In 2008, less than 20% of young voters (ages 18-29) said that age was an important factor, and very few reported that it was “the single most important factor” in deciding their vote: only 6% of young Democrats and 4% of Republicans. While youth have voted for the younger of the presidential candidates in a majority of recent elections, those younger candidates have also generally been Democrats, which means the age of candidates is tied to other factors.
America’s Civic Renewal Movement: Implications for Youth Engagement
Last month, Tisch College—the home of CIRCLE—released “America’s Civic Renewal Movement: The View from Organizational Leaders,” a report by former CIRCLE Director Peter Levine and Eric Liu, founder and CEO of Citizen University. The report is the product of interviews with 20 leaders from large, national civic engagement organizations who discussed the state of the field and broader strategies for civic renewal.
While the interviews did not focus on youth, its findings are highly relevant to youth engagement. Young people are developing their civic identities when there is not yet a robust network for civic renewal, and several interviewees lamented the lack of youth in formal settings, such as facilitating conversations.
Political Engagement Trends of Latino, African American, and Asian Youth
Young people in America are an increasingly diverse group with varied political and ideological views and different ways of engaging in political and civic life.
Our most recent analysis looks at differences in electoral engagement among youth of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, with separate fact sheets about African American, Asian American, and Hispanic young people. The fact sheets present both findings and recommendations for how to better engage youth of different ethnic backgrounds in the short and long terms.
Some noteworthy findings:
– Perhaps in part because of the “Obama effect,” Black youth had the highest voter turnout rates in each of the last three elections (2008, 2010, 2012), and the highest registration rates in the last two presidential cycles. At the same time, young African Americans remain the most “under-mobilized” group, meaning those who register but do note vote.
– Gender matters: 37% of young Black men consider themselves “conservative” and 19% voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Only 18% of young Black women consider themselves “conservative” and just 1% voted for Romney.
– Turnout among Asian American youth decreased from 43% to 36.2% in the 2012 election—the lowest rate among youth of different ethnic groups—and young Asians generally lag far behind their peers in voter turnout and registration rates.
– Young Asian Americans are significantly more likely than youth of other ethnic groups to donate to charitable organizations.
– Nearly 40% of young Hispanics are civically alienated and their voting rates in the last three elections have been among the lowest across all racial and ethnic groups
– Latino youth saw an increase of 46.6% to 48.9% in their voter registration rates between 2008 and 2012, even as youth of other racial and ethnic backgrounds all experienced declines.
Read the full set of fact sheets about African American, Asian American, and Hispanic youth engagement.
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Request for Proposals:
Research on Critical Issues in Advancing Community-Engaged Scholarship
Three grants of up to $5,000 | Proposals Due November 20, 2014
The 2014 Lynton Colloquium on the Scholarship of Engagement was held on September 15, 2014, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Hosted by NERCHE and the Center for Engaged Democracy (CED) at Merrimack College, the Annual Lynton Colloquium launched a new research initiative aimed at studying key community engagement issues identified by a crowd-sourcing methodology and input from Colloquium participants. Grounded in the work of NERCHE’s Next Generation Engagement project and CED’s focus on academic programs in civic engagement, the Lynton Colloquium and the Request for Proposals which grew out of the meeting seek to foster sustained and systematic investigations that will support deeper understandings of and clearer actions around critical issues in advancing community engaged scholarship.
Research Priority Areas
The research initiative is framed with the goal of identifying the current critical challenges of advancing community engaged scholarship and the collaborative identification of research priority areas. The three research areas to emerge as priorities from the Colloquium are:
- Structures of Inclusion:
This includes questions of student diversity, faculty diversity, research methodologies, scholar identities, inequality regimes and structures of exclusion. Respondents identified an interest in reframing these regimes and structures toward equality and inclusion
Includes ways in which academic administrators (Provosts, Deans, Chairs) create supportive institutional cultures for community-engaged scholars, as well as professional development for administrators to be effective and supportive (of community engaged faculty) community-engaged campus leaders.
- Student Outcomes:
Includes civic learning outcomes as well as outcomes around persistence, retention, and success.
Request for Proposals
The Center for Engaged Democracy is requesting proposals for research in any of the three research priorities areas listed above. CED will support research in these areas through three research grants of up to $5,000 per research project.
A PDF copy of the Request for Proposals (RFP) is available for download on the CED website at:
The RFP must be submitted electronically via the following website: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1809925/2014-Lynton-Colloquium-RFRP
Proposals are due November 20, 2014, for research to be completed by August 2015 for presentation at the 2015 Lynton Colloquium in September 2015.
For more information, contact Elaine Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dan Butin (email@example.com), or John Saltmarsh (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or visit the CED website at: http://www.engageddemocracy.org
Do campus student organizations cultivate civic skills and identities?
JOIN A NATIONAL STUDY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. This National Study is being organized by two ADP Campus Coordinators and political science faculty members — Elizabeth Bennion at Indiana University South Bend and Cherie Strachan at Central Michigan University.
Invitation to Participate
Minimal time commitment! Serve as campus coordinator or recruit somebody else!
TO SIGN UP OR GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CIVIC SKILLS RESEARCH PROJECT, please send the following information to Elizabeth Bennion at the project email address RSOstudy@iusb.edu: name, title, contact information (including email and phone number).
Colleges and universities are increasingly called upon to bolster students’ civic and political engagement. Yet research in both political science and higher education suggest that current college-level civic education and political science coursework are incapable of fully addressing these concerns. Political scientists know that participation in associational life plays an important role in cultivating such engagement. Yet we have largely overlooked the potential of civil society on our own campuses. Given the prominent role of voluntary associations in political socialization, this work explores whether student organizations function as the equivalent of campus civil society, and whether they can supplement formal civic education efforts on campus. A single-campus pilot study, based on an internet survey of student organization presidents, found that traditional Greek organizations far outperformed other types of campus organizations in activities known to cultivate members’ civic identities, political skills, and political efficacy. The finding that some student organizations excel at this task is reassuring. Yet given the reputation of Greek organizations, this preliminary pattern is also disconcerting. Recent research by both sociologists and higher education scholars have found that participation in Greek organizations is associated with higher levels of sexism and symbolic racism. This project seeks to replicate the single campus pilot study across numerous college campuses, to determine whether the patterns identified are unique to a single campus, or whether they describe the state of campus civil society across higher education. The findings will help advocates of campus civic engagement to identify both problem-areas and best-practices for student groups. [NOTE: You do NOT need to have Greek organization on campus to participate in this study of registered student organizations.]
Participation Requirements | Campus coordinators for this project will be asked to:
- Assemble contact information for student organization presidents on their campus
- Provide assistance coordinating approval of the questionnaire/study for their campus
- Help to bolster the response rate on their campus
Participation Benefits | Campus coordinators for this project will receive:
- A report detailing the findings for their own campus
- A summary report comparing their campus to overall findings
- A letter documenting participation in the project
- Eligibility to serve as PI of future Consortium projects
IRB Approval Notice
This study has already been approved by the Institutional Review Board at both Indiana University South Bend and Central Michigan University. The Principle Investigators of the study, Elizabeth Bennion (IUSB) and J. Cherie Strachan (CMU) will assure that all protocols are strictly observed. The recruitment procedure and student leader survey have been vetted by the Institutional Review Board of each campus in accordance with university and federal policies governing human subjects research. A copy of the IRB approval letters, or other IRB materials, is available upon request. Separate IRB approvals are NOT required for each participating campus. The requirements and approval protocols for student participation in national research studies vary by campus. However, if your campus would like you (or the PIs) to submit an IRB application, or other materials, please contact Elizabeth Bennion at the project email site RSOstudy@iusb.edu. Dr. Bennion will be pleased to assist with any IRB requests related to this study of registered student organizations.
As part of CIRCLE‘s ongoing efforts to explore young people’s political participation ahead of this November’s midterm election, they have released a new fact sheet about youth voter registration. This analysis by CIRCLE Deputy Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg explores registration with particular focus on the 2010 contest, the election most comparable to the upcoming 2014 midterm.
The fact sheet includes data on gaps in youth registration rates between midterm and presidential cycles, differences in how young people (ages 18-29) and older adults register to vote, the reasons why young people say they did not register to vote in 2010, and the effects of policies like same-day registration on youth registration rates.
Over the next two weeks, CIRCLE will feature further discussion on these topics in a series of blog posts. The first post, published concurrently with the fact sheet, examines turnout rates among young registered voters.
Download the fact sheet here. You can also explore CIRCLE’s innovative, interactive map that provides youth registration and other voting data from the past 30 years of midterm and presidential elections.